Friday, February 28, 2020

Review: 142 Ostriches

142 Ostriches

142 Ostriches
April Dรกvila

Tallulah Jones wants nothing more than to get away from the family ranch in the Mojave desert. She's got a job lined up in Montana, and she's looking forward to striking out on her own. But, before that happens, her grandmother Helen dies, leaving the ranch and 142 ostriches to her. Tallulah is convinced the only thing she can do is sell to a despised neighbor and move on. Only, before she can do that, she needs to find out why the ostriches have stopped laying eggs. And if that weren't enough, she still has to tell the rest of the family she's planning to sell. This might not be as easy as she thought since Aunt Christine and her girls might need her help, and Uncle Steve, a recovering drug addict, isn't pleased that Tallulah has inherited the ranch in the first place. He's turned up to make a world of trouble for her. With all the chaos that ensures Tallulah has to decide what she wants out of life. Will it be the place she's called home since she was thirteen, or will she turn away from all she's known, in the search for something else?

142 Ostriches is an intriguing story full of terrific characters, a stark desert setting, and a fast pace that will keep discerning readers turning the pages to see just what Tallulah will do next. I love the way the author captures the stress and anxiety felt by her and how her past keeps her searching for something elusive. The dysfunctional family was not only well portrayed but made this book more vivid and engaging. I can't wait to see what the author writes next.

Thanks to Kensington Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Review: The Golden Hour

The Golden Hour

The Golden Hour
Beatriz Williams

It's 1941, and Lulu Randolph, recently widowed, finds herself in the Bahamas looking for a story for a New York magazine. As she befriends the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, connecting with their social circle, she comes to see that not all is golden with the couple. Their political views are also less than desirable. While on the island, she meets and marries Benedict Thorpe only to find that he disappears when the island's wealthiest man is murdered.

Lulu travels to London, hoping to find him, even though the war is sure to hamper her efforts. As she meets up with Thorpe's sister, she learns the complicated story behind Thorpe and his family, particularly that of Elfriede, a German woman caught in a loveless marriage. As the tale proceeds, the stories converge, leaving Lulu to wonder whether she will ever find her husband again.

Fans of historical fiction will appreciate the author's attention to detail and her beautiful prose. The Golden Hour is a story that carries the reader away, across time and place, to uncover secrets and an ending to a family drama that contains an unforeseen twist or two.

Thanks to William Morrow for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Review: Bella Figura

Bella Figura: How to Live, Love, and Eat the Italian Way

Bella Figura
Kamin Mohammadi

Bella Figura, or the art of appreciation and living well, is what Kamin Mohammadi learns all about when she relocates to Italy. After leaving her job as a magazine editor in London and suffering from a breakup with her boyfriend, she decides to move to Florence to make a new start in life.

The only plan she has is to write a book and take some time off for herself. It isn't long, however, until she meets some new friends who help her discover the meaning of Bella Figura. She soon finds herself in a new relationship with Roberto, a local. Overwhelmed by the intensity of the affair, she is taken aback when things don't turn out the way she expected. It may be that she has to kiss a few toads before finding her prince charming. Despite this, she learns to appreciate her time in Florence, and when the right man comes along, she will be ready to see where love takes her.

Mohammadi's charm, honesty and the courage to reveal personal ups and downs made this book a joy to read. The inclusion of Italian recipes at the end of each chapter is also a nice touch.

This review was originally written by me for City Book Review.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Review: Unto Us a Son Is Given

Unto Us a Son Is Given (Commissario Brunetti, #28)

Unto Us a Son Is Given
Donna Leon

Commissario Brunetti is back! In this latest installment of Donna Leon's mesmerizing detective series, Brunetti is asked by his father-in-law, Count Falier, to look into some rumors he's heard about a long time friend. Gonzalo Rodriguez de Tejada wants to adopt a young man as his son, which Italian law allows. But is this younger man only interested in the older man's money and art collection? Either way, Gonzalo has made up his mind. But when he suddenly dies and one of his close friends is found dead, Brunetti has a case to solve, one that makes him think a lot about the meaning of love, family, and friendship.

Donna Leon is a master at creating a sense of place; as a result, Venice shines through the pages of this novel. I can think of no other fictional detective with the heart and soul of Guido Brunetti, who is devoted to his family, his job and his city. With vivid and intriguing narrative, Leon brings the reader right into the minds of the characters, and each one is more interesting than the next. Coupled with unexpected twists and turns Unto Us a Son is Given doesn't disappoint.

This review was written by me for City Book Review.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Review: The Missing Years

The Missing Years

The Missing Years
Lexie Elliott

Alisa Calder has inherited a Manse in the Scottish countryside. The problem is, she only owns half of it. The other half belongs to her father, and he disappeared years ago. Frankly, she'd like to sell the Manse, she can't imagine living in it. But until her father is proclaimed dead, she can't do that. Alisa decides to leave London and stay temporarily in the house with her half-sister until she can sort out the administration around the house.

Upon her arrival, Alisa feels the house is watching her. There is something sinister about it even if she can't put her finger on it. It definitely has its secrets, and she wonders if it is haunted. To top it off the villagers aren't that happy with Alisa's return and a few of them are keen to let her know that. Nevertheless, being back in her childhood home leads her to wonder what actually happened to her father all those years ago.

This compelling mystery left me on the edge of my seat. There were so many things that seemed to go bump in the night, creating a wonderfully atmospheric tale. The characters didn't disappoint either. If you liked the author's debut work The French Girl, you will love The Missing Years.

This review was originally written by me for City Book Review.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Review: A Long Way Off

A Long Way Off

A Long Way Off
Pascal Garnier

Marc feels like he needs to get away. He doesn't feel connected to his wife and the people around him anymore. While visiting his daughter Anne in hospital, he decides to take a trip. He convinces Anne to come along with him and his cat Boudu to the French coastal town of Le Touquet. The journey turns into a more extended road trip that finds them headed towards the town of Agen in a camper van. What transpires is a trail of disaster that leaves them so far from home, there may be no way back.

The title of this book might be A Long Way Off, but as far as I'm concerned, this one was spot on. It was just what I've come to expect from Garnier's work, a bit of darkness shot through with humor at the oddest moments. Like his other works, this one gets under the skin. I think Garnier fans and fans of the noir genre, in general, will find this short book highly entertaining.

Thanks to Gallic Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.